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Can you open carry in Boulder, CO?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Nov 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

No. In the City of Boulder, people age 18 and older may openly carry firearms only if they are in a carrying case.1

What qualifies as a firearm carrying case?

The case must be recognizable as a gun carrying case by a reasonable person.2 It should not resemble other kinds of cases, such as those that hold an instrument.

For instance, holsters qualify as an acceptable carrying case. But a duffle bag, briefcase, or backpack would not qualify unless it is clearly marked as carrying a gun.

People must carry these cases openly and not concealed. For instance, holsters may not be covered by a jacket or shirt. And cases must be carried outside of the clothes so they are visible.

Is there anywhere people can openly carry without a carrying case? 

Yes. Open carry is legal in Boulder without a carrying case in the following three locations:

  1. On the person's property;
  2. In the person's business; and
  3. In a private vehicle.3

What are the penalties?

Boulder's punishment for openly carrying a gun without a carrying case is:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • Up to 90 days in jail4

During a recent demonstration where protestors openly carried rifles, police chose not to make any arrests. Law enforcement figured it would escalate the situation. But ordinarily, anyone openly carrying a gun is vulnerable to getting arrested in Boulder.5

Who can never carry guns in Boulder?

Certain people may never carry guns in Boulder or throughout Colorado. It makes no difference whether or not the guns are in a carrying case. People prohibited from carrying a firearm include:

  1. Children under 18 years old if the firearm is a handgun;
  2. Convicted felons;
  3. Drug addicts and drug abusers;
  4. Fugitives;
  5. People convicted of domestic abuse, even if it is just a misdemeanor;
  6. Mentally ill-adjudicated people;
  7. People subject to a restraining order for stalking;
  8. Veterans dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces;
  9. Illegal aliens and non-immigrant visa-holders;
  10. People who renounced their U.S. citizenship;
  11. Anyone subject to a Colorado protective order that forbids possessing guns;
  12. If the gun is a machine gun, short shotgun, or short rifle (which are prohibited under 18-12-102 C.R.S., possession of dangerous weapons);
  13. Anyone in federal facilities (examples are courthouses, airports, post offices, or federally subsidized housing); and
  14. Anyone on public or private school or university grounds.6

Can I carry concealed in Boulder?

Yes, if the carrier secures a concealed weapons permit (CCW). The CCW may be from Colorado or a state that has reciprocity with Colorado.

People may be eligible for a Colorado CCW if they meet the following conditions.

  • At least 21 years old;
  • Eligible to possess a firearm;
  • No past perjury convictions related to a CCW permit application;
  • No alcoholism;
  • No restraining orders;
  • Competence with handguns; and
  • Legal residency in Colorado

People who carry concealed must always carry their CCW as well as an ID. CCWs are valid for five years.7


Legal References

  1. Boulder Municipal Code 5-8-21.
  2. Same.
  3. Same.
  4. Boulder Municipal Code 5-2-4.
  5. "Why Boulder police didn't enforce open carry restrictions during recent protest," 9News KUSA (April 25, 2018).
  6. 18-12-108.5 C.R.S.; 18-12-108 C.R.S.; 33-6-125 C.R.S.; 18-9-118 C.R.S.; 18 U.S.C 922.
  7. 18-12-105 C.R.S.; 18-12-203 C.R.S.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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